Barbara Mandrell

Biography: Barbara Ann Mandrell was born Christmas day, 1948, in Houston Texas. Her parents, Irby and Mary Mandrell were both very musical. Mary taught piano lessons and Irby owned a music store. Barbara learned to read music very early and gave her first public appearance playing the accordion at her church when she was only five. From her father's music store, she became interested in studying the saxophone and the pedal steel. At age ten, Barbara made her first television and radio appearance in Bakersfield, California, and at age eleven Irby took his young and talented daughter to a music trade show in Chicago where she demonstrated the various instruments. It was at that trade show that Barbara impressed such convention guests as Chet Atkins and Joe Maphis.who invited the talented youngster to join his "Joe Mathis Show" at the Showboat Hotel in Las Vegas. This gig led to a regular stint on the Los Angeles based "Town Party", a network debut on ABC's "Five Star Jubilee", and aBarbara Ann Mandrell was born Christmas day, 1948, in Houston Texas. Her parents, Irby and Mary Mandrell were both very musical. Mary taught piano lessons and Irby owned a music store. Barbara learned to read music very early and gave her first public appearance playing the accordion at her church when she was only five. From her father's music store, she became interested in studying the saxophone and the pedal steel. At age ten, Barbara made her first television and radio appearance in Bakersfield, California, and at age eleven Irby took his young and talented daughter to a music trade show in Chicago where she demonstrated the various instruments. It was at that trade show that Barbara impressed such convention guests as Chet Atkins and Joe Maphis.who invited the talented youngster to join his "Joe Mathis Show" at the Showboat Hotel in Las Vegas. This gig led to a regular stint on the Los Angeles based "Town Party", a network debut on ABC's "Five Star Jubilee", and a concert tour with the Johnny Cash Show which also featured June Carter, Patsy Cline, and George Jones.

After the tour, the Mandrell's decided to form their own family band and toured throughout the West Coast as well as overseas. A young Ken Dudney had joined the band as drummer. He was the man who would eventually marry Barbara Mandrell. The two soon had two (of their three children). Matthew was born in 1970 and Jaime in 1976.

Barbara went through a brief retirement after her marriage, but after a trip to the Grand Old Opry, she turned to her father and said, "Daddy, I wasn't cut out to be in the audience." Soon after, Barbara made her appearance on the Opry and over the next two days, she was fielding offers from six different record companies. In 1969, she signed with CBS records under which she released her first number one hit - "Midnight Oil". In 1975, Barbara moved to ABC Records (which would eventually be purchased by MCA in 1978) and recorded 18 albums with such chart topping singles as "Sleeping Single in a Double Bed", "Woman to Woman", and "If Loving You is Wrong (I Don't Want to be Right)".
By 1979, Barbara had won the prestigious CMA vocalist of the year and was approached by producer Marty Krofft and NBC to do a variety television show. Barbara, along with sisters Louise and Irlene, starred in the weekly "Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters" was a resounding success with both critics and fans. The series was a Top-40 ratings hit and ran from 1980-1982 until doctor's orders forced Barbara to give up the show due to its stressful long workdays and the toll it was taking on her voice.
Mandrell went on to perform an HBO Special - "The Lady is a Champ" in 1984, the same year in which she tested her acting wings in "Burning Rage" for CBS. Barbara had the world in the palm of her hand, ... or so it seemed.

On September 11, 1984, while driving in Hendersonville, Tennessee, a young man's car drifted across the lane and hit Mandrell's car head on. Both cars were demolished and the young man was killed in the accident. Barbara suffered a severe head injury, a broken leg and ankle, a damaged knee, and several cuts and bruises. Son Matthew and daughter Jaime suffered injuries as well, but none nearly as devastating as their mother. Barbara had no memory of the two weeks following the accident and the intense pain and physical therapy were a fact of life for the star for months on end. It took two years before Mandrell was physically well enough to perform again. Barbara credits her family (including new addition Nathaniel, born in 1985) and her faith for giving her the strength and courage to make a comeback in 1986. Barbara released her autobiography in 1990. The book entitled "Get to the Heart: My Story" remained on the New York Time's Best Seller List for six months.

Among Barbara's accomplishments are two consecutive years as CMA's "Entertainer of the Year" (1980, 1981), two "Female Vocalist of the Year" awards (1979, 1981), nine "People's Choice" awards for "Favorite Female Country Music Vocalist", the "Living Legend Award" given only to entertainers who have been in the business at least 25 years, the "Tex Ritter Award", and a Grammy award for "Best Inspirational Album of the Year",
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